Phlogiston, AKA The Things We Used to Know

A few words by my friend unplugged89, aka Matt, on why science is NOT a fixed belief system, but a process of constant re-examination.



Science, as in all human ventures, has taken its fair share of wrong turns. But unlike our usual reaction to gaffes and slip-ups, those made in science can offer humanity a chance to grow and learn.

My favourite of all our mistakes is by far phlogiston. I would say that I’m not sure if it’s my favourite because of the undeniable beauty of the theory, the way it reminds me simpler times when we knew that earth was an element, or because of what happened next, except that I’m absolutely sure it’s the latter. You see, this silly mistake would go on to define what we know and how we go about knowing what we know.

For the non-scientist readers, I would like to say at this point that you should stick with me here. I’m going to explain some science for a bit, but it’s not all numbers and…

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